Internationals' injury jinx strikes another Arsenal victim
Gael Clichy (a suspected fractured foot) looks set to now join Sol Campbell (twice), Alex Hleb, RVP, Freddie Ljungberg (indirectly- he has been injured twice in the opening minutes of games immediately following international week) and Thierry Henry (re-aggravating a groin injury minutes after wonder goal in Ireland) as casualties- this season alone- of an international week.
Add Gilberto's unavailability if he has been playing in South America for Brazil's World Cup qualifiers, and it accumulates to Wenger now regularly counting the cost of international matches in terms of the faltering strength of the first-team line-up.
Against this negative context, the one positive to flow out of the mistaken omission of two-time World cup select squad nomination, Sol Campbell, from the starting line against Argentina, was to spare him from a potential third successive injury in an England shirt.
Each of the three matches after the international break has seen Arsenal play away from home without players who had featured the game before the break. Add the lack of match preparation time for Wenger to hone the team to the unique Arsenal groove, and the damaging result (although should not have been the inevitable result) has been successive defeats.
This time around the majority of international teams do not have midweek matches so Arsene will have the whole week to prepare the team, as well as fresher players to choose from: ingredients which should inspire a good result at Wigan (subject to further announcement of new Arsenal injuries!).
Pascal Cygan will probably be drafted in to replace Cole/Clichy- especially with the excellent Senderos playing in Turkey on Wednesday night and therefore unlikely to be considered fresh enough to play a lunchtime kick-off in Wigan. My thoughts on Pascal in the centre-back position have been published before (fair to say not a great fan), but he has less capacity to cause catastrophic errors at left back than in the centre of defence. Anyways, as Arsene has unending faith in Pascal, than I guess I should have some faith in him too.
After the Wigan match, should the predominantly left-footed Senderos be considered as an emergency left-back a'la Gallas? Or is the versatile, but right-footed, Toure a better suit for this role than either Cygan or Senderos?
The low-intensity match at FC Thun next week will be the perfect occasion to experiment with either of these latter options.